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Technology: Process of Modernization is Difficult for the Government

By Dick Weisinger

In yesterday’s post we saw that many organizations aren’t able to consider adopting newer technologies like Cloud Computing because they are locked into existing investments in legacy on-premise software.  A report by Meritalk and Unisys found that the federal government is also struggling to modernize,  but the budget for modernization is severely limited because of the many dollars that the government needs to continue to spend on maintaining existing systems.

Half of the federal government’s $77.5 billion budget goes towards maintaining and supporting legacy applications.  80 percent of IT managers at government agencies say that modernization of their legacy systems is critical, yet only about a third say that modernization is one of their top priorities.

UPI.com quotes Mark Cohn, chief technology officer, Unisys Federal Systems as saying “Federal IT leaders see application modernization as vital to their agencies’ ability to successfully meet current and emerging needs.  In an age of tightening budgets, application modernization can free vital resources and budget currently allocated to maintaining legacy systems that are often duplicated across an agency.  While many agencies have launched discovery and planning activities, pressure will grow to implement modernized applications for functionality and security benefits and to retire redundant systems to reduce cost.”
The report identifies lack of communication as a problem in many agencies.  IT leaders aren’t able to sufficiently influence or get their teams and agency heads to understand the importance of modernization.
The report also found that there is a large amount of redundancy of capabilities across the various agencies, particularly in the areas of IT governance, ECM and BPM systems.  It suggests that there would be greater efficiency if the government adopted an SOA approach that allowed for reuse of services across different agencies.  The use of SOA would “fuel innovation and continuous improvement, shifting costs to extending business capability as opposed to new software development that is partly or wholly redundant. Incrementally modernize, emphasizing reuse and not technology, developing shared services where sharing is valuable and agreed upon by the participants.”
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